News Column

Death Looming, Stranded Woman Records Emotional Farewell to Sons

Dec. 13, 2012

Bill Lindelof, The Sacramento Bee

A Nevada woman who survived six days stranded in the snowy Sierra recorded a tearful goodbye to her twin sons in case she never saw them again.

Part of Paula Lane's emotional message was played Wednesday morning on NBC's "Today" show. Lane appeared on the morning news program with her two rescuers, brother Gary Lane and his friend Brian Roff. The men borrowed a state Department of Transportation front loader to find her Dec. 5.

Lane, a mother of 11-year-old twin boys, suffered frostbite. Her boyfriend, Roderick Clifton of Citrus Heights, died in a storm when he went to seek help early in the ordeal.

When the storm broke three days after Clifton left the car, Lane -- who had survived by eating tomatoes she had on hand, as well as snow -- left the vehicle.

But before venturing out, she apparently used a cellphone to record her message: "I'm so sorry this has happened," she said. Later, she says on the recording: "I just want to come home."

Other recorded comments reflect her mounting pessimism that she would be found: "As soon as the sun comes out, I'm going to have to try to make it. It's seven miles in 6 feet of snow. Nobody's ever going to find me here at Burnside Lake."

Lane and Clifton were reported missing after they left Citrus Heights on Nov. 29. The couple traveled down a closed road leading to Burnside Lake near the junction of highways 88 and 89 south of Lake Tahoe. They traveled about five miles, heading toward a mountain overlook.

Authorities said Clifton wanted to go off-roading in his four-wheel drive 1989 Jeep. The vehicle became stuck in the mud on the back road.

When the storm finally abated, Lane went looking for help.

Her brother, who had been searching for her with Roff, thought the couple might have gone to Burnside Lake, where they had previously camped.

In the "Today" interview with Matt Lauer, Lane said it was difficult to watch the video.

"That's only the fourth time that I've seen it. When I first made the tape, I wanted it to be more of a happy goodbye. ... It was the first time I cried since the ordeal had begun, and to watch it now, it's surreal."

Source: (c)2012 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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